Social Media Best Practices

Establish goals

Before entering into a social media environment, define what you hope to achieve through this medium. Some common goals are: To build an awareness of a program; connect constituents for a stronger community experience; and gain insight through listening to discussion and feedback.  Consider who the audience is for the conversation when developing goals and tone of writing.

Manage the Site

Social media sites by nature are active and posts and replies must be frequent – daily in some cases. Before an account is activated, consider who will be responsible for the updates to the site.  Make sure you have the time to maintain the site properly since a site with slow response can be more detrimental than no presence at all.

Protect yourself and contributors

Do not publish personal information about yourself, such as phone number or address and make sure those rules are followed for all contributors.  Personal information about another individual, other than the default profile, should not be allowed. FERPA privacy laws must be followed when students are involved, including permission to use all photos or videos of students.
If you discuss a situation involving individuals on a social media site, be sure that they cannot be identified. As a guideline, don’t post anything that you would not present at a conference.

Disclose your identity

The name of the department, program or group should be part of the social media title to avoid appearing as the main university representation.

Be accurate

Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite you sources and provide links whenever possible. If you make an error, correct it quickly and visibly.

Monitor comments

Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. Blog sites can be set to allow review and approval of comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments. Facebook posts cannot be prescreened but can be hidden after they have been entered
If you invite feedback, be prepared to accept what you get.  If wrong or misleading information is published, clarify it. If someone posts negative feedback, understand it as a chance to improve your service or stimulate discussion from other contributors.
Spam, flaming, personal attacks, and off-topic comments are not permitted and these types of comments should be removed or screened out if comments are reviewed first.
Be mindful of the responsibility for student safety.  Just as you would in an advising situation, refer students to university resources and/or bring issues of concern to the attention of the appropriate office.
Media inquiries about social media content should be referred to the Office of Public Relations.

Be a valued member

Make sure you are contributing valuable insights that will be of interest to readers.  Sharing of resources is an important element of social media so it is appropriate to include links to other sites, blogs, tweets, etc.  No one likes spam so avoid sending too many updates.

Think before you post

There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed.

Be aware of image. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create an official UNC social media site, visit the University Graphic Standards for an approved logo and other images and to ensure consistent presentation of the university’s image.
Be mindful of how your content will be perceived, especially during an emergency or crisis, and remember that the Office of Public Relations officially communicates on behalf of the university.

Be respectful and professional

As a UNC member, you understand the university’s commitment to respectful dialogue and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Online discussions can evoke strong statements; keep your professional demeanor and promote it among contributors.

Use professional judgment when publishing pictures and videos and consider the public nature of social media images. Contents should be checked for punctuation, grammar and accuracy.

Promote Your Social Media

Allow time for the number of followers to grow and increase the visibility of the site by adding appropriate icon links to your Web page. Icons should be secondary to the University logo and department name. Encourage others to become fans/followers/commenters.

When allowed by the social media platform, connect with related UNC accounts, link to UNC pages and other professional resources. Rebroadcast relevant information from other relevant sources, maintaining awareness of copyright law. Always cite the original source.

Respect university time and property

As stated in the UNC Computer, Internet & Electronic Communications Procedures, university computers and your work time are to be used for university-related business You should maintain your personal sites on your own time using non-UNC computers.